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Alba Vineyard and Winery
by
Kathy Sullivan

Alba Vineyard and WinerySummary: Alba Vineyard & Winery located in a historic barn, has won the distinction of being New Jersey Winery of the Year for three years. Alba Winery is easily a day trip from New York City. Choose to taste dry wines, sweet wine or dessert wines.

Article Update May, 2014

We returned to Alba Vineyard in the spring of 2014 to discover that the vineyards have increased in size and the Alba tasting room will moved to a new location on the property. Alba Vineyard has been named the New Jersey Winery of the Year in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2013.

Alba Vineyards and WineryWe had a delightful talk with Tom Sharko, owner of Alba Vineyard, while he provided us with a tour of the vineyard. Tom’s focus is on the vineyard. He believes that good vineyard practices make quality wine. Due to the nature of the limestone soil, he plants the vines in narrow rows and achieves high density. An acre has approximately 2,400 vines. The vineyards are planted with Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Tom noted that he also has plantings of other grape varieties.

The 52 acres of vineyards are sustainably and dry farmed. All work is done by hand. Harvest is about 2¼ to 2½ tons per acre. Tom keeps the yield small by pinching off the fruit right up to harvest. For Pinot Noir, Tom keeps one cluster per vine; Chardonnay has two clusters per shoot. In addition to the grapes from the Alba’s vineyards, Tom sources grapes from Washington that are used for making a second label, Chelsea Cellars.

Wines

Alba Vineyards and WineryWines are tasted with a plate of foods including cheeses, meats, fruit and crackers. The winemaker produced the Chardonnay 2011 by fermenting one-half of it in an oak barrel. The aroma and taste of the wine included apple, pear and caramel notes. The finish was crisp and fruity with hints of caramel. Gewürztraminer 2012 offered an intense aroma reminiscent of tropical fruit. The taste was slightly sweet with tropical fruit hints. The finish was dry.

The Pinot Noir 2010 was a light translucent ruby color. The aroma offered berry notes. The taste was of berry especially raspberry. The wine offered mild tannins and the finish was crisp.

A variety of public events including holidays and live music take place at Alba. The winery is the site for about 12 weddings a year. Watch the Alba Vineyard website for the calendar of events.

Original Article

Tom Sharko is the owner and vintner. The word "alba" in Italian means "dawn."

Vineyards

The original vineyards of 15 acres were planted in 1980. Tom acquired the original 32 acres out of bankruptcy in 1997 and now farms over 100 acres. The vineyards currently have 57 acres with 47 producing grapes. Land cleared last winter is almost ready for six more acres of vines. The vineyards consist of many varieties including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Gewürztraminer and Barbera. The land behind the winery is continually enlarging with vineyards. During the winter months, land is cleared and come spring more grapevines are planted. The trees from the cleared land are sold for lumber. The vineyards are dry farmed.

Alba Vineyard and Winery

Scattered throughout the vineyards there are small grassy areas where several large rocks have been used to delineate the spot. These grassy oasisses would make the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic while surrounded by vineyards.

Alba Vineyard and WineryAlba Winery

The winery facility was originally a dairy farm built in 1801. The walls are of limestone and oak beams are visible. In the winery, Tom produces dry European style wines with estate grown fruit. Alba wines are meant to be paired with food. He likes to keep wine in 100 percent French oak barrels for two years. The winery produces 12,000 cases and Tom would like to double that amount. Alba Vineyard & Winery was named New Jersey Winery of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

The tasting room has subdued lighting. The stone walls and wood ceiling has an old-world feel.

 

White Wines

Chardonnay 2008 was produced with 80 percent stainless steel and 20 percent French oak. The wine was a light yellow with an oak aroma. The taste offered notes of vanilla, caramel and pear. The finish was crisp with vanilla and caramel nuances that yielded to pear and honey. Dry Riesling 2009, a straw color, had notes of yellow stone fruit and floral on the aroma. There were apricot notes on the taste. The finish was of dry stone fruit with a hint of minerality. Main Sail White was produced with Cayuga, Vidal Blanc and Chardonnay. The finish was crisp. This wine makes a good 3P wine (picnic, patio and pool).

Alba Vineyard and WineryRed Wines

Chambourcin 2008 was a dark purple with a ruby rim. The aroma and taste had red berry notes. The finish had very mild tannins with fruit yielding to oak. Heritage Cabernet Franc 2008 was dark ruby. The aroma offered dark fruity notes especially plum. There were plum notes on the taste. The finish had tannins with plum yielding to spice. Barbera 2007 was light ruby. The aroma and taste had red fruit notes. The crisp finish was fruity with mild tannins. The fruit yielded to oak. Pinot Noir 2008 was a light ruby. There were spice notes on the aroma. The taste offered spice and red berry notes. The finish with tannins had oak with berry nuances.

Fruit Wines

Blueberry was produced with 100 percent New Jersey blueberries. As might be expected the wine aroma had notes of blueberry. The taste had bold blueberry notes. The wine was very sweet. Visitors may want to purchase this wine to enjoy and also to bake a Blueberry Wine Cake. Red Raspberry Wine offered raspberry notes on the aroma and taste.

Dessert Wine

Forbidden Wine is smooth with apple nuances. Pairing suggestions include pairing with tiramisu and apple desserts.

Events

Events at the winery include Music Under the Arbor, music, and festivals. Private events are also hosted here including weddings, banquets, and conferences. Large events can take place above the vineyards with beautiful views of vineyards and the New Jersey countryside.

Alba Vineyard and WineryIt is easy to reach Alba Vineyard & Winery and the tasting room is less than an hour and a half from New York City and Philadelphia. Note: Most mapping software place the address in the wrong location. Use the GPS location.Enjoy your visit to Alba Vineyards & Winery to taste dry traditional wines or sweet fruit wines.

Alba Vineyard & Winery
269 Route 627
Milford, New Jersey 08848

GPS: N40º 36.853’ W75º 09.793’

Article written June 2011

 


 

 


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